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Summary Judgment to Pedestrian on Issue of Liability in Crosswalk Accident Case Affirmed by New York Appellate Tribunal

There are four steps to establishing liability in a Syracuse car accident case: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Once each of these elements has been proven, the remaining issue is usually the amount of money damages necessary to compensate the plaintiff for his or her pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses.

Sometimes, the trial court will rule, in advance of trial, that the plaintiff is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law as to liability because the defendant has not presented enough evidence for the case to go the jury on this issue. When this happens, a trial is only necessary if the parties cannot agree on a dollar figure on the damages issues. Of course, a defendant may resist a pre-trial ruling on liability, and he or she may even ask for appellate review if such a ruling is made.

Facts of the Case

In a recent pedestrian accident case arising in the Supreme Court of New York County, the plaintiff was a woman who claimed that the defendant motorist struck her while she was crossing an intersection. The plaintiff further averred that she was within the crosswalk at the time of the accident, that the traffic light was in her favor, that the defendant was making a left turn at the time of impact, and that she suffered numerous injuries due to his negligence. The plaintiff filed a motion for partial summary judgment, seeking judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability. The defendant opposed the plaintiff’s motion, but the trial court rejected the defendant’s arguments and ruled in the plaintiff’s favor. The defendant appealed.

The Court’s Ruling

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department affirmed the lower court’s ruling, agreeing with the trial tribunal’s opinion that the plaintiff had established prima facie entitlement to summary judgment as to the defendant’s liability and that the defendant had failed to raise a triable issue of fact in opposition to the plaintiff’s motion and evidence in support thereof. In so holding, the court pointed out that the defendant had submitted an affidavit that was inconsistent with either the police officer’s report of the accident or the motor vehicle accident report completed a few days after the accident. Because of these inconsistencies, the reviewing court agreed with the lower tribunal that these “feigned issues of fact” were not sufficient to defeat the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.

In so holding, the reviewing court noted that the defendant’s affidavit did not allege that the plaintiff was anywhere other than inside the crosswalk as she had averred, nor did the defendant claim that the light was in his favor at the time of the accident or that there was any reason for him striking the plaintiff other than his own negligence. Rather, the defendant merely contended that the plaintiff’s affidavit was not based on her own personal knowledge of the accident insomuch as she claimed to have suffered “cognitive difficulties and memories issues” after being struck in the crosswalk. In response to these allegations, the court stated that there was no evidence that the plaintiff was unable to recall the general details of the accident as she had set forth in her affidavit.

To Get Legal Advice About a Pedestrian Accident

Motorists accused of negligence – or, more accurately, the insurance companies of negligent motorists – often fight very hard against a finding of liability, even when a pedestrian accident case seems clear cut. If you have been hurt by a careless driver, you need an effective legal advocate as you fight for the compensation to which you are entitled. To learn more about the requirements for asserting your legal rights following a motor vehicle accident in upstate New York, call the experienced Syracuse car accident attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, at 315-479-9000.

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